I recently came across a cool add-on for Aperture. David Riecks, who currently chairs the SAA Imaging Technology Standards Committee, has a small but very useful product called Controlled Vocabulary. The keyword dictionary is available for Aperture users as well as Lightroom, iView Media Pro and a list of many other popular image management applications. For $69.99 you get over 11,000 keywords organized in a hierarchal structure and a 1 year subscription of updates. David was nice enough to send me an evaluation copy and I have finally gotten around to taking it for a test drive, so let’s have a look.
Installing the Controlled Vocabulary is as simple as hitting the Import button in the HUD and pointing to the aperture.txt file found in the downloaded folder from Controlled Vocabulary. It may take several minutes to load the list of over 10,000 words, and as stated in David’s install instructions “resist the temptation to use the Force Quit option” during this import process. Once you have loaded the keywords you are off an running. The keywords will be appended to your current keyword list. Once you have added the list, it might be a good idea to click the “lock” button in the Keywords HUD. This will prevent the accidental addition of other keywords and will maintain your “controlled” list.
David has some really great advice on keywording images on his website. He also has a pretty good tutorial for Aperture users on how to use the Keyword HUD and metadata inspector. Keywording can become an art for some, so be sure to check out David’s advice.
Up until now, I have been one of those people who basically just types out the keywords for an image as I go. I usually just look at my picture and type a list out by hand. Now that I have a controlled vocabulary, I will be able to search for terms and add them from the HUD. It is a different way of working, but I have a feeling that in the long run using a controlled vocabulary will make finding my images much easier. I can always add a few special keywords to the list if I need to, but for the most part, I plan to stick to the list.
If you have ever worked with a stock agency you will know how important keywording can be. Many agencies use their own controlled vocabulary, so it will be interesting to see how David’s list matches up with places like iStockPhoto who ask their photographers to go through a process called disambiguation for each photo they submit.
For more information on David’s keyword list, check out his website at http://www.controlledvocabulary.com